I have taken a bit of a different approach altogether to both ingredients and method. Most sponge cakes call for cake flour for a very delicate crumb, and in the case of the castela sponge bread flour and turbinado sugar is used( more on that story later Kirsty).My cake uses a combination of almonds and polenta, which helped to keep it sturdy.I added the olive slowly, drizzled into the mixer rather than the classic method of folding in the fat at the very end. The cake bakes in two stages.It is baked for 35 minutes, then the heat is lowered to 160C/gas mark 2 and baked for a further 35-40 minutes.
Since we're now luxuriating in the soft fruit season, I thought it would be fun to pair this cake with a simple honey and vanilla cherry compote and creme fraiche. Apricots,fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches or any fresh fruit would also be perfect. Just macerate the fruit in sugar to produce some delicious juices,which are used to drizzle the cake with.
I have taken artistic licence to call it a "sponge" cake because it's imbibed with a liquid. For the purpose of the photograph, I cut circular slices from the cake so you can see the beautiful crumb, but be sure to serve the cake with plenty more compote syrup and creme fraiche.
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
220g golden caster sugar
180g very finely ground almonds
220g fine polenta flour
tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup yuzu and macha green tea cordial
FOR THE COMPOTE
400g cherries, halved and stoned
3 tbsp honey
160ml macha green tea and yuzu cordial
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.Grease the base and sides of a loaf pan, measuring 20cm in length,line the bottom with baking parchment.In a processor beat the eggs and caster sugar together till pale and fluffy.Mix in the ground almonds polenta and baking powder.Blend thoroughly then add the lemon zest and through the funnel stream in the olive oil followed by the cordial.Make sure everything is well combined.spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 35 minutes then lower the temperature to 160C and continue baking for a further 35 to 40 minutes until firm.While the cake is cooking halve and stone the cherries.In a small pan warm through the honey and yuzu cordial.Add the cherries and simmer for about 10 minutes until the fruit has given off some of its juice and the cherries have made a compote.Strain the juice into another pan and reduce to a syrup.When the cake is ready, remove from the oven, then pierce all over with a metal skewer. Spoon some of the syrup from the cherries over the surface of the cake so it runs down through the holes into the crumb of the cake, then leave to cool.Remove the cake from its tin, then serve with the cherry compote creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt and some fresh cherries.